New To Ski

Easy Guide To Flying With Skis & Boots on a Plane (Travel Tips To Save Money)

by Robert Stanley | Updated: October 27th, 2022
plane ride

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Preparing for a ski trip is always exciting, but it can also be stressful too. Everyone looks forward to the crisp mountain air, shining sun, and of course, cute ski clothes, but what about the skis and ski boots?

Luckily, many airlines will allow you to check a ski bag as a regular piece of luggage, so long as it does not exceed 50 pounds.  It makes sense to have a bag that is specifically designed for carrying this equipment.  Regulations vary from airline to airline, so always do your research beforehand so you are prepared.

Italy
Photo by Risto Kinnunen under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you are new to skiing, you will probably rent your equipment at the resort.  Some skiers are happy to continue renting skis and boots, while others prefer to make the investment and buy their own. If you do take your own equipment it’s important you follow certain rules to make sure it arrives safely at your destination.   

Common Questions About Flying with Ski Equipment

So, how do you handle taking your equipment on a plane with all your other luggage? Questions you may need answers to include:

  • Do airlines allow you to take ski equipment?
  • Is it expensive to take my equipment on the plane?
  • Is it easy to take the equipment through the airport?
  • Do I have to carry it all by myself?

Hopefully, the following information will ease your fears and concerns, so you can devote your time to your favorite slopes.

How Much Will It Cost to Fly with My Ski Equipment?

plane

The cost of flying with your skis and boots will vary according to the airline’s policies regarding baggage fees, your frequent flyer status, and other considerations.  You might get lucky, as some airlines offer a free first-checked bag.  This would enable you to fly with your skis and boots at no extra cost.

When this happens, separate ski bags and boot bags are often checked as one bag, which can really simplify things.

Some airlines charge an oversized baggage fee, which unfortunately means you will be paying extra.  It is best to thoroughly check beforehand, so you can choose the most appropriate package for your equipment.

Check with both the airline and even your credit card to see what benefits and discounts you might be eligible for.  The savings could be significant, especially if you are a frequent flyer or airline credit card holder.

Choosing the Right Bag for Your Equipment

Choosing the right bag to transport your ski equipment is crucial.  There’s no getting away from it, skis and boots are heavy and awkward, however, with the right bag for your gear, you will have no problem negotiating the airport. 

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A double ski-roller bag is the best option for skiers.  Wheeled bags not only make traveling through airports easier, but they also tend to have extra baggage room to pack other ski equipment, such as goggles, gloves, clothes, and boots. This leaves you extra packing room in your suitcase.

Many skiers find that using a double ski-roller bag enables them to pack lightly, as they only need it and a backpack offers plenty of storage space. Not only can you pack more, but the extra padding protects your ski gear too!

Always check with your airline, as many have restrictions about the type of bag they allow.  Typically, most airlines will allow a soft bag, but there are some that require you to pack your skis, poles, snowboards, etc. in a hard-shelled case. 

Can My Ski Boots Count as a Carry-on?

When you’ve found a pair of ski boots that fit well, they are difficult to replace. So, many skiers are understandably hesitant about checking their boots, imagining it might be the last time they see them. This is especially true for those who have customized boots made specifically for their feet.

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Although many airlines will check a ski bag, ski boots are sometimes a different story.  If you have a bag for your boots, the airline might include it with the skis as one item.   Again check with your airline’s policy. You will find most airlines have information on their websites about the carriage of ski gear.

If you choose to travel with your boots as a carry-on item, remember that the boots MUST be placed in the overhead compartment. They are bulky and take up too much room in the already cramped cabin space.

Tips to remember when traveling with your ski boots as a carry-on item are:

  • Use Velcro to snap the straps together OR
  • Tie the laces of both boots into a firm knot to carry over your shoulder
  • If your boots do not fit into the overhead storage compartment, ask the flight crew if there is storage elsewhere on the plane
  • When getting your boarding pass, ask for a seat at the front to ensure you have plenty of legroom for both you and your boots

Should I Rent or Buy Ski Equipment?

Renting Ski Clothes

Often seasoned skiers start juggling the idea of renting versus buying.  Researching the cost of both plus the cost of getting your gear to your destination will often enable you to come to a final decision.

You need to weigh up the practicalities too, relative to your situation. For example, traveling with ski gear can be cumbersome especially if you have small children to contend with. Also, don’t forget to check your travel insurance policy to find out if your equipment is covered and for how much.

You may even get lucky enough to avoid the rental shop completely.  There are a growing number of resorts that have added complimentary rental delivery services even to houses and condos.

ski Slope

Remember to take your skill level into consideration before renting or buying ski equipment.  If you are brand new to skiing, it is recommended that you rent. 

Renting ski equipment does take the stress out of traveling. You won’t have to worry about checking in your gear, paying extra baggage fees, or losing your boots on the transfer from the airport to your accommodation. 

The flexibility of renting does also allow you to try out different equipment, to find out what you like and dislike before going ahead with such an expensive purchase. Many resorts and rental shops have demo shops for this particular reason and often you will be able to change equipment without being charged. 

Often, more experienced skiers eventually prefer to invest in quality skis and boots. Reasonable quality skis and boots should last for quite a few years, so, although the initial outlay seems a lot if you average out the cost over a ten-year period it will seem more reasonable.

Mont Blanc Skiers
Photo by Risto Kinnunen under CC BY-SA 2.0

Other Items Needed When Heading To The Slopes Are:

1. Gloves

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2. Goggles

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3. Helmets

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4. Snow Hat

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5. Face/Neck Covering

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6. Base Layers

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7. Back Protector

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8. Sunglasses

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9. Sunscreen

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10. Hand warmers

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11. Hydration Pack

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12. Neck Gaiter

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Some of these items take up a lot of space, so you’ll need to bear that in mind when packing for your trip. Make sure you have enough room for all the essential items, as well as your skis and boots.

Consider the Cost

If you only go skiing once every few years, you might want to think about whether you want to pay the baggage fee for flying with gear.  This fee can sometimes add up to $100 per person per trip.  That’s an extra $200 roundtrip!

On the flip side, having your own ski equipment can save money in the long run.  When traveling internationally, many skiers choose rental as the best option, because getting through customs with ski gear can be a hassle.

Where Do You Retrieve Your Gear After Landing?

Bag Claim

When your flight has landed, head straight to baggage claim to retrieve your gear.  It won’t appear with the regular luggage because it’s the wrong shape to fit on the conveyors.  Most ski bags and other ski equipment can be collected from the oversized luggage claim area.

Pro Tip: To find cheap flights to ski resorts, we use Skyscanner, which searches all airlines in one go.

If it seems to be taking forever, don’t worry.  It’s normal for ski equipment to arrive after the main luggage is on the carousel. Get prepared and grab a luggage cart to transport everything to your next stop. 

If you have a connecting flight, keep in mind that you might need to claim your checked luggage and recheck it for your next flight.  Keep an eye on the timings so you have enough time between connections to ensure that both you and your luggage make it through customs.

Extra Tips for Flying with Skis and Ski Equipment

window
  • Use a luggage cart for transporting suitcases and ski bags
  • Use wheeled bags or backpacks to protect your back
  • Have each person count the number of bags before leaving (this includes ski bags, suitcases, backpacks, strollers, car seats, etc.)
  • Weigh your bags beforehand on a bathroom scale to check the weight requirement (this will prevent you from needing to repack everything when at the check-in counter)
  • Pack a small towel in your ski bag to dry off equipment at the end of the trip before repacking
  • Leave the towel in the bag to absorb moisture and remove it once you safely arrive home
  • When it comes to packing, be realistic when deciding to fly with skis. Pack lightly, as you do not need a lot of clothing aside from your ski gear.

The best items to bring are a few warm and comfortable items and snow boots. Packing with these things in mind will help make your traveling experience as pain-free as possible especially when flying with skis and ski boots.

Mammoth Mtn
Photo by Murray Foubister under CC BY-SA 2.0

The call of the slopes is a pull for many skiers around the world.  So, the next time you start planning your trip to the mountains, remember to keep these tips in mind. 

Always check with the airline or website to make sure you understand their policies and guidelines regarding ski equipment.  Invest in a ski bag that will also enable you to pack other essential ski gear, and when able, carry your ski boots as a carry-on. 

If the hassle or cost of flying with your ski equipment is too much, consider renting your equipment.  But remember to reserve gear in advance to ensure availability and often get a better price.

pair of skis with poles

The peace of mind that comes from knowing your skis and boots are safely secured on the plane makes it easier to sit back and relax I look forward to that first drink when you arrive at the hotel.  With a little research, killer packing skills, and the desire to ski, you will be on your way to a fantastic time on the slopes.

There is no right or wrong with buying or renting skis and boots. It comes down to your personal circumstances, how often you ski, how much gear you have to take, and how many connections you have on your journey.

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NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I share everything I wish someone had told me when I was learning to ski. My name is Simon & I've been skiing since 2005. This winter, our family is taking a 3-month camper ski trip across the Alps. If you enjoy our articles, please join the free email club. We'd love to have you.
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